The Relocation of Nokwsi is a virtual puppet production by Robert Hicks Jr, inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, the title character. Nokwsi invites audiences to gather round and listen to the story of his journey away from his people, the Cherokee, Paiute, Yakama, and Shoshone, to live and work in Chicago. No longer surrounded by nature, he begins to navigate a world of noise and lights, where buildings shade warmth from the sun, and people are always in a rush. As he adjusts to city life, he encounters a series of obstacles from homesickness, to air pollution, to racism, but eventually finds joy in his new community and beauty through the concrete. This poetic piece conveys the admiration the writer has for his grandfather with gentle day-to-day lessons on how to stay connected to ourselves, our family, and the earth even during times of change.
The Relocation of Nokwsi is the second production to emerge from the Springboard Project, an initiative launched in 2020 by Chicago Children’s Theatre to foster new works made especially for today’s young people.
This performance of The Relocation of Nokwsi is a gift from our supporters’ families to yours!
Behind the Scenes
More about The Relocation of Nokwsi
The production is set during a moment in Indigenous history in America that is often overlooked. During the 50s and 60s, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) created a “relocation” program to coerce American Indians to move to urban areas, one of many “Indian termination” policies intended to assimilate Native Americans into mainstream society. “Urban Indians” faced discrimination and encountered difficulties securing jobs and housing. Rising activism eventually put an end to the program in the 1970s. In spite of racist BIA policies, Native people were resourceful and found ways to thrive. Nokwsi is a powerful reminder of their resilience.
Robert Hicks Jr
Robert Hicks Jr. is a member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe of Nixon Nevada. He is a musician, filmmaker, painter, and audio engineer. He has won multiple awards for his films at the AIHEC film festival and is looking to enter multiple film festivals around the world. The stories he likes to tell are based on real life and Native American lore. With his film studio, NOKWSI FILMS, he plans on creating a creative outlet for everyone interested in film. Robert approaches every project with a community health aspect in mind, with an emphasis on suicide prevention. He believes small acts of kindness can heal a person and in the process heal the community. He is currently enrolled at the University of Kansas in the Indigenous Studies Masters program and the Applied Behavioral Science Behavioral Psychology PhD program.You can contact him through email at Robert.Hicksicc@gmail.com or through Nokwsiart.com.
Tokeya Waci U
Tokeya Waci U (Comes Dancing First) is a member of the Oglala Lakota and Haliwa-Saponi Tribes. He has had the opportunity to travel all over this Indigenous land ever since he was a baby. His hometown in the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota and Hollister, NC are particularly meaningful to him, and he introduces these communities within his art. In 2017, he began his journey as a Ledger Artist, portraying life’s experiences to strengthen and empower Indigneous people. He has had the pleasure of having himself and his artworks featured in museums along the East Coast and in Albuquerque, and the new upcoming TV show: “FBI’s Most Wanted” directed by Dick Wolf of Law & Order and SVU. He served as the 2019 featured merchandise artist for the Santa Fe Indian Art Market, his artwork adorning their t-shirts, coffee, mugs, tote bags, and gift cards. Tokeya is now affiliated with Teton Trade Cloth as part of the Cultural Advisory Team and has also done a few artsy items for their shop. He graduated from Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, KS with a Liberal Arts Degree focusing on fine art. He also studied Psychology and Theatre at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO.
Alex Kimball Williams
Alex Kimball Williams, the artivist (artist + activist) behind Bad Alaskan, constructs electronic music with Indigenous dance & meditative elements. Their music contains jazz, neo soul, classical, & ambient influences- consolidated to model & examine multiraciality, educating Natives & non-Natives alike. Alex has written scores for short films & podcasts, conducted community music workshops, & regularly provides their services for protests, vigils, classrooms, & other spaces bringing people together with purpose.